San Francisco, San Mateo counties extend property-tax deadline to May 4

San Francisco and San Mateo counties have extended their normal April 10 property-tax payment deadlines until May 4, the date their tax collector’s offices are scheduled to reopen to the public after shelter-in-place orders are lifted.

As of midday Monday, no other Bay Area counties had extended their deadlines, but all are advising taxpayers who have trouble making their payment because of the coronavirus to apply, after the due date, to have their penalties waived.

Under state law, secured property taxes are due in two installments; the last date to pay the second half without penalty is April 10. The penalty is 10% of the amount due if you are even one day late. (Mailed payments are on time if postmarked by the due date.) If the payment is still delinquent after June 30, interest starts accruing at the rate of 1.5% per month.

There are two revenue and tax code sections under which counties can waive penalties for late payments.

Section 2619 says that if April 10 “falls on Saturday, Sunday or a legal holiday,” the due date is the next business day. It also says, “If the board of supervisors, by adoption of an ordinance or resolution, closes the county’s offices for business prior to the time of delinquency on the ‘next business day’ or for that whole day, that day shall be considered a legal holiday for purposes of this section.”

San Mateo and San Francisco county supervisors adopted resolutions to close their tax collector’s offices so the payment deadlines could be extended until they reopen.

“Having this resolution approved and in place will now extend the final due date of the second installment to the next business day that we will open to the public,” San Mateo County Treasurer Tax Collector Sandie Arnott said in a news release issued Monday. Because San Mateo County’s shelter-in-place order extends until May 3, “we would anticipate being open to the public to accept the second installment of property tax payments, without penalty, on Monday, May 4.” Walk-in payments must be made by 5 p.m., online payments must be made by midnight, and mailed payments must be postmarked by May 4 to avoid penalties.

San Francisco Treasurer Tax Collector Jose Cisneros announced his county’s extension Friday. It said that taxpayers unable to pay by May 4 for reasons related to the coronavirus should submit a request for a penalty waiver online after May 4, and explain their hardship.

“Once a penalty waiver has been granted, it will waive all penalties from the deadline until 10 days after the date of the waiver. If you do not pay your taxes within those 10 days, you will need to apply for an additional penalty waiver or will face penalties and interest,” it says.

A second code section allows county tax collectors to waive penalties for an individual taxpayer if a late payment “is due to reasonable cause and circumstances beyond the taxpayer’s control, and occurred notwithstanding the exercise of ordinary care in the absence of willful neglect.” Many counties say they will consider waiver requests from taxpayers affected by the coronavirus or COVID-19, the deadly respiratory disease it causes.

A few other California counties, including Imperial and Kern, have adopted resolutions allowing them to extend due dates, said Dan Mierzwa, Yuba County’s tax collector and legislative chair of the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors.

On Friday, the California Taxpayers Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, California Chamber of Commerce, and 75 local business and taxpayer groups sent a letter to Gov. Newsom urging him to use his executive authority to extend the April 10 deadline statewide.

In a joint statement Saturday, the two associations representing California counties and treasurer/tax collectors said, “Counties will use all existing authority to cancel penalties and other charges for homeowners, small businesses, and other property owners that are unable to pay their property taxes due to circumstances caused by COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis. However, property owners who can pay or that haven’t been directly affected by COVID-19, including international corporations and out-of-state landlords, still need to pay on time to keep critical government services running.”

Newsom subsequently issued a statement thanking the associations “for committing to providing economic relief for residents and small businesses facing hardships due to COVID-19.”

Taxpayers should consult their county tax collector’s website for updated information.

Kathleen Pender is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: kpender@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kathpender

Article source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/networth/article/San-Francisco-San-Mateo-counties-extend-15182594.php

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